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Favourite Things

Great Art:
English 19th century: Turner, Leighton, Alma-Tadema; Danish Skagen school, American Impressionists - far superior to French and other Europeans. Best Galleries: Wallace Collection, Lord Leighton's House, New Orleans Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Art, Boston, USA. The Hermitage, St Petersburg, complete with pictures fading in direct sunlight, and the ‘medieval’ gents loos!

Great conversations with interesting people:
Eg. war veterans and explorers, American entrepreneurs, pioneering managers of startup companies, British scientists, retired British Colonial Service officials.

Heathrow, arrogance, inheritance babes, sticky jars of marmalade, Ken Livingstone and London Transport.

One Great Library:
The British Newspaper Library, Colindale, north-west London, where 200 years of journalism is kept.

Preferably Dalmatians – the quiet obedient variety, and the Hungarian Vizsla, or a Staffordshire Bull Terrier – yes, really.

On a sunny morning on the River Thames, at Auriol Kensington Club, Hammersmith, London, or a skiff at Richmond-upon-Thames, by Richmond Bridge. Up to 2002 I took part in the world's largest sporting event prior to modern marathons – the Tideway Head, held in mid-March on the Thames between Chiswick and Putney bridges (4.5 miles – reverse of university boat race course), with around 400 eights taking part. It is a very long way.

Classical Music:
Brahm's Eine Deutsches Requiem, Chopin's Romance and other piano pieces, Rachmaninov No.2, corpus of English hymns, Handel From Scratch (mass concerts of amateur singers), Beethoven symphonies, .

Best Films:
Laurence of Arabia, Ryan's Daughter, Far From Madding Crowd, Dead Poets Society, Teacher's Pet, Manon des Sources.

Favourite Books:
‘Oxford Miniguide to English Usage’, compiled by E C S Weiner (1983)
‘Microcosmographica Academia’, F M Cornford – Cambridge’s guide to success.
‘Passing Time in the Loo’, Compact Classics
‘Concise Oxford Dictionary of Quotations’, OUP
‘Bodyguard of Lies’, by Antony Cave Brown
‘The Keys to Creativity’, BBC Books
‘Alexander The Great’, Robin Lane Fox
‘The War of Wars’, by Robert Harvey
‘California Impressionism’, Abbeville Press
‘American Impressionism’, William H Gerdts
‘Taxi Driver Wisdom’, Mickenberg
‘How to Stay Alive in the Woods’, Bradford Angier
‘Scenes from a Relationship: Britain’s German Heritage’, FCO
‘Turner: a Life’, James Hamilton

Best Experiences:
Working on Radio 4 Summaries and Bulletins; Watching my doctor father saving many lives with his bare hands, and watching my parents build the biggest cardiology practice in Europe; watching the GB Eight win Olympic Gold in Sydney the day after Redgrave’s Four won Gold; Dating in the 1980s – great music, great times.

Oddest Experiences:
Eight years at British boarding school, where conditions would now be considered illegal, bitten by snake, shot at in speedboat on Sea of Galilee, getting marooned in Mexican mountains after a tropical storm swept away the landscape, narrowly avoided exit through malnutrition, mugged in Siberia. Chased by wolverine in Canadian taiga, and eaten alive by mosquitoes and black flies, when working as lumberjack. In 1962: watching Russian missile fleet returning home from Cuba, off island of Crete, from the deck of a Greek cruise liner.

© 2008 Marcus Gibson